Joining any organisation in a management position is challenging; you will likely have people reporting directly to you (directs) and you will also be reporting into a more senior manager yourself.
Prior to your arrival in the role it is likely your new directs will have been told that they are about to get a new boss. This can be incredibly nerve racking for the individuals concerned and will have likely been asking themselves questions like “What is s/he going to be like?”, “will we get on?”, “what if they don’t like me?” and “how can I make a good first impression?”.
What is often forgotten is that the new manager is likely to be feeling the exact same feelings but from an alternative perspective and within this lies an opportunity for a meeting of minds.
My approach when joining an organisation is not to immediately force the relationship; meet your new directs as soon as you can and start with the principle of just being a nice person. Try to find out something about them and try to find common ground both inside and outside of work.
As I started my new role at Boots one of the key strategies I have adopted is to ask everyone that I have met about the challenges they are currently facing within their role and the challenges that they feel are currently being faced by faced by (in my case) the Digital Portfolio within the organisation. My intention in focussing on this question is:
- To understand where there are common themes. Are different people reporting the same challenges from different perspectives.
- To evaluate where I need to focus my attention most urgently and the areas that I might be able to have a positive impact.
- To open up a dialogue where I am clear from the outset that I am here to help and that I will work with the individual to help them to remove their pain points.
The same is true of my directs. In asking these questions it immediately sets a tone that I want to help them to succeed. Where challenges exist I can then work with the individual concerned to help them to overcome the obstacle.
I’ve recently been reading some very interesting articles about the difference between a Boss and a Leader (more posts on this soon). My belief is that from the very first conversation you have with a new direct report you need to ensure you are displaying leadership attributes as this sets the tone for all future conversations that you have with the individual. If you’ve missed this opportunity and haven’t been able to set the right tone from the outset don’t panic – its definitely not to late to change the dynamic but it becomes a little harder to do so.
In my experience making the first impression count is incredibly important; you only get one chance to create a first impression and if you get the relationship off to good start you can remove the mutual nervousness that you and your new direct are feeling. It is your responsibility as the new manager to own this first impression.
If you have any thoughts on how to approach meeting new direct reports please comment below to continue the conversation.